Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Opposing bullying at work

It's apt that, having affirmed support for reasonable regulation of health and safety at work, UNISON Conference has moved on to debate the problem of bullying at work - a problem which is inevitably aggravated by staff shortages caused by job cuts and the tyranny of the market over public services.

The National Women's Committee has done Conference a service by putting this highly prioritised motion before delegates - and it has inevitably invited eloquent and heartfelt testimony from the front line of public service delivery.

Pat Jones from Kirklees deserves an honourable mention for explaining how admin workers are standing up to unacceptable treatment from their employer with the effective tool of strike action.

Ultimately the best defence against bullying bosses is union organisation, but union organisation which is supported and informed to deal with what can be a gruelling experience for members - and a difficult and challenging task for lay union representatives.

As long as there are power imbalances in social relationships there will be instances of the abuse of power, and workplace bullying in heirarchical organisations cannot be eliminated - but capable and committed union representatives can do what we can to redress power imbalances and to support and empower victims.

Structural inequalities based upon social oppression mean that those who already face forms of oppression are disproportionately at risk of bullying, a point well made by delegates from self-organised groups and others.

Conference has rightly agreed Motion 5 unanimously in opposition to the culture of fear in the workplace.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

1 comment:

Dave said...

How unfortunate is it that our own organisation is in danger of becoming institutionalised bullies. Look at the methods used by our regional officials (with national leaders looking the other way) to expel and harrass key activists. What is this other than a hierarchical organisation using the unions resources to victimise our elected leadership, often socialists not aligned to New Labour, modernist ideas of 'partnership' with bullying employers?

Given the methods used: trying to bankrupt individuals; siding with fascist sympathisers to falsely accuse a black member of bullying; physical assault of elected branch officers by a regional paid official; shouldn't we loudly proclaim that such bullying and harrassment be stamped out in Unison!